POSCO Scandal: High Court Thwarts Orissa Government’s Repeated Act of Favoritism

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa High Court today found the state government guilty of favoritism and quashed its recommendation for giving Prospecting License (PL) on the Khandadhar iron ore mines to Posco-India, viewed as the object of Chief Minister Navin Patnaik’s cup-board love.

A bench comprising Justice B P Das and Justice B P Ray in hearing a petition of Geomin Enterprises has disapproved the Government’s modus operandi and directed for reconsideration of the recommendation that breathes discrimination against about 227 applicants for mining lease over Khandadhar.

The state government had recommended to the Center in January 2009 in favor of the South Korean Company in total disregard to objections of the Adivasis as well as people of Orissa to whom Khandadhar is Orissa’s life-saving eco-system.

In this anti-people act, the Government had not hesitated to slough over other applicants’ right not to be discriminated against.

This had prompted Geomin Enterprises, one of the applicants to challenge it in the High Court of Orissa and subsequently 16 others had intervened.

Navin Patnaik is in the center of suspicion as favoritism shown to POSCO was not inadvertent. It was deliberate. Earlier in December 2006 the central government had turned down the state’s recommendation for POSCO on ground of discernible discrimination and stressed on re-hearing of all applications by the state. But POSCO was again the beneficiary of favoritism.

The High Court order is therefore more significant.

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